In most areas of life, you would never rush to your leader with a huge request without first collecting data. There are three reasons for avoiding this.
First, your leader might actually grant your hasty request. Unfortunately, this can create additional issues if the request doesn’t solve your problem or if it births extra problems.
Second, your leader may deny your request because the results seem unclear or unsafe.
Third, your leader may deny your request simply because you already possess what you need.
Things don’t have to end up this way. The results of prayer can be so much better than this.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe prayer is foundational—whether in scarcity or in abundance. I wholeheartedly believe in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 when it says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
At the same time though, I agree with Matthew 6 when it says, “When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”
Instead, God is a God of data. A God of information. And he wants us to be that way too.
This is particularly true when praying for loved ones or for your community.
For example, James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
If God wanted us to pray for one another without information, he would have nixed any recommendation for confession.
Access to personal confession isn’t always available, but prayer is still required. This is particularly true when praying for large groups of people. In this situation, you may need to rely on survey data or sampling data to get an idea of what burdens need to be given to the Lord.
Without reliable data, our prayers lack precision. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think God needs our prayers to be precise to answer our prayers. God is all-powerful and all-knowing even when we don’t communicate well with him.
Instead, the precision is for us. If we aren’t precise, it makes it difficult for us to know what’s truly going on. For example, we might feel we have a need for an immediate financial rescue. If we aren’t precise, we make it difficult to see the possible answers that God may have for us.
Sure, we may notice a pay increase. That’s fairly obvious and upfront. But if we aren’t precise, we may not realize that we have a leaky faucet in a guest bathroom. We may not realize that we have a streak of jealousy that’s causing us to buy unnecessary purchases. We may not realize that God may simply want us to be patient.
So I plead with everyone who is reading this. Seek the data in your lives. It’s the key to deeper communication with each other as well as with the Lord.